If you have spent even a little time browsing the internet and looking at gardening or plat growing related topics, then you probably have seen the terms hydroponics and aquaponics at least a couple of times. So let me explain what exactly are hydroponics and aquaponics, how they differ from each other and which one you should use for growing plants.
So first lets take a look at the older method of the two – hydroponics and growing your plants hydroponically. Hydroponics essentially is growing plants in water instead of regular soil. But not just any water, the water in which the plants are placed, to grow them hydroponically, is infused with specially formulated nutrient mix, by placing this mix an a special nutrient reservoir, so the hydroponic system can release the nutrients the plants need to grow gradually. And since the plants rely on this nutrient mix, because it is the only way for them to get the necessary substances they need to grow and mature, you can easily kill your plants if you don’t quite know what you are doing and don’t give your plants the necessary supplements or don’t replace these nutrients once the plants have taken everything they need from the nutrient mix. On top of that when you are growing your plants using a hydroponics system, you also need to monitor the temperature, Electrical Conductivity (EC) and pH levels of the water, since the nutrient mix will change these parameters constantly not providing the plants with a steady growing medium. However, even though t is not as easy to grow plants hydroponically, by doing it this way, providing that you do it right, you will be growing your plants under optimized growing conditions, which is why your plants will grow quickly and will give bigger yields.
The other growing method is aquaponics, that was developed my fusing aquaculture or fish raising with the previously mentioned hydroponics, because when you are growing plants aquaponically you are growing plants and fish together in one complete system. The downside to aquaponics is that it will take you months to start growing plants this way, since first you need to develop the aquaponics system by creating a nitrifying bacteria colony, because without this bacteria the amonia from the waste that the fish will leave won’t convert into nitrates and won’t be of any use for the plants. But one this bacterial system is ready, once you fill the fish tank with water, let in the fish and plant the plants, you won’t have to dump and replace the nutrients like you have to while growing hydroponically, which eases the whole growing process. You will only need to top of the fish tank from time to time, feed the fish, and look after the water temperature so it doesn’t become too cold and the pH levels so the levels don’t become too extreme. And since you essentially create a complete, working mini ecosystem by growing your plants with aquaponics method, your plants will get all the necessary nutrients they need naturally, so they can grow and mature into big-yielding plants.
Which method is better?
So which method of growing plats is more efficient? Well a few different parameters need to be considered here, to determine that. First the costs. If we look at how much the maintenance of hydroponics cost versus the maintenance of aquaponics, you will see that running aquaponics system will be much, much cheaper, since you won’t have to buy expensive nutrients and replace them multiple times during the plant growth. The only maintenance costs in aquaponics is the fish food, and water to top of the fish tank. The other thing is the actual productivity of the systems. Based on a study done at the Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development at Brooks, Alberta, Canada, once an aquaponics system is established the actually growing of plants take less time, and the results will be better. However, since you also have to consider the actually set-up time and compexity of the process, here hydroponics would win over aquaponics. So it is hard to say which method if better or more efficient or to day that one is more superior than the other. But both of them definately are good alternatives for growing plants in regular soil.